Cacao is one of the main income crops in the mountains directly around our home. The first time we rode up to visit, I found it so incredibly exotic to be riding under Cacao trees. Chocolate has had a part in history: as the drink of kings, the snack of emperors, the building blocks of kingdoms.
As is the way with life, Cacao trees have now become rather commonplace for me. Eh, that old thing…I’ve walked under thousands of chocolate, and navigated around hundreds of drying mats covered in rancid, fermenting Cacao beans.
Cacao grows on trees, is picked, then is split open to get at the seed, The fruit is surprisingly delicious, but it is usually discarded to rot under the trees…which I think helps to fertilize the soil? The seeds’ outer membranes are cleaned off, and then they are placed out on mats to dry and ferment. Once the chocolate seeds are dried, they are sold from hand to hand to hand until they are sent to a factory where they are made into chocolate.
The chocolate around here is usually dried on the side of the road, or next to where chickens hang out, and pulled in and out when it rains. Possibly that is one of the contributing factors to the chocolate being second rate. I’m not a Cacao expert though.
That would be a fun second job.